Friday, July 15, 2011

Around the Word

Summertime and the networking's not easy: If you live in New York, you know how challenging it can be to schedule a meeting in the summer, and that goes double for making personal connections in the publishing biz. To help writers and other PR pros to know when to hound 'em and when to fold 'em, the social media and publicity agency Inkhouse did a poll on vacation plans to pinpoint the best and worst weeks to pitch during the summer. Weeks to avoid: July 11 (18 percent on vacation), July 25 (11 percent) August 1 (11 percent), September 5 (10 percent), September 12 (13 percent). Weeks to act: August 15 (6 percent) and August 22 (4 percent). How do these dates comport with your experience? (h/t to GalleyCat)

Opening lines: The hardest part of writing -- whether you are master novelist or a middle-school book reporter -- is often figuring out where, and how, to start. No one has discovered a secret sauce for effective openings. But Chris Tribble, a lecturer in applied linguistics at Kings College London, has done some research suggesting their are some common elements. He studied the ledes of a wide range of articles in the Guardian and identified the paper's top 20 three-word sentence beginnings "that, when taken with the words that follow them, constitute a sort of journalist's toolkit." This week Ragan published Tribble's primer list, which includes: "It is a," "This is a," and "One of the." While these opening bids don't get points for creativity, Tribble sees them as a ski jump to the rest of the thought. "There is a usually introduces an 'existential statement' by the writer or story subject," and "One of the allows the writer to introduce striking, important, or controversial matters. 

Going nuc-u-lar: After Michelle Bachmann's recent fumble with the word "chutzpah," New York magazine's Daily Intel has put together a slideshow of prominent politicians mispronouncing words. From President Obama pronouncing "corpsman" as "corpse man" to Sarah Palin's love of the non-words "refudiate" and "verbage," these clips will give you a chance to feel superior over your elected officials in your knowledge of the English language -- and be glad that your every slip-up isn't broadcast on YouTube. 

Writing in the fast lane: When social media and blogging provide instant feedback to your writing, sometimes it can be hard to focus on a meatier project with a longer deadline. Business communication blogger Chris Brogan provides some useful insights into and coping strategies for this problem of "writing for the long haul" in his most recent post. While instant praise (or criticism) on the web can be as addictive as Ben & Jerry's, Brogan compares long-form writing to eating your vegetables -- you reap most of the rewards down the line. How do you keep your writing diet balanced?

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